Tuesday 30 November 2021

Are cats psychopaths and do psychopathic animals exist?

I think this is a question that should not be asked. It's a dangerous question to ask in my opinion. Psychopathy is a human concept that relates to humans. It's a way of measuring human behaviour which is antisocial, amoral and which demonstrates the inability to love or establish meaningful personal relationships. Psychopaths fail to learn from experience and express extreme egocentricity. So I don't think you can measure animal behaviour with a tool that is designed to measure human behaviour. You get into all sorts of complexities and problems if you try and do that. You end up at a dead end.

Psycho cat
Psycho cat. This is an anthropomorphized cat in the human image. It shows that we are applying human concepts inappropriately to animals.

But they say that cats are inherently psychopathic. They say that all domestic cats are psychopaths. But this is instinctive, natural behaviour by domestic cats. I suppose what they're referring to, the experts, is that domestic cats like to hunt and prey on animals and show no remorse. They even play with animals before they kill them. An act of barbaric, unfeeling callousness. It's horrible by human standards but entirely natural by the standards of a predator. So all predators are psychopaths if we get into this kind of discussion.

On a finer point, it is believed that 1% of men and 0.3-0.7% of females can be classified as psychopaths. People are human-animals. We are animals to put it bluntly. And therefore psychopathic animals do exist by definition.

But as animals' brains function differently to human brains I think you will need to devise a test for animals if you want to measure whether their behaviour is psychopathic or not. Even that might be pointless.

Also, when we measure a person a psychopathic we measure that person's behaviour against norms, and moral standards in human society. In order to decide if a person is psychopathic you must measure them against society's norms as we see them. You can't measure cats and other animals against human society norms and moral standards. It is going to fail.

This is a subject which is not been formally studied by scientists. Although you will see slightly amusing stories in the news media about domestic cats being psychopathic. It's the kind of article that journalists like to write.

The fact of the matter is that when intelligent people discuss whether domestic cats and other animals are psychopathic, they end up at a dead end. They come to a place, once they've thought about this, where they can't make a decision and provide an answer to that question. That's because the question is inappropriately formulated. As mentioned, psychopathy is a concept which describes a small percentage of humans.

In any case, I would argue that it is an artificial concept. It is people labelling other people. But there is a wide spectrum of human behaviours. We don't need to label them at the extremes. You could argue that a psychopathic person is behaving normally at that end of the spectrum of human behaviour. We can expect people to behave like that sometimes.

My thoughts have come to a dead end. It's not worth discussing this. It doesn't get you anywhere. It doesn't enlighten you. We should never apply human concepts to animals. We should get into the heads of animals and try and sense what it is like to live in their world to understand them but not brand them and label them with human mental conditions.

P.S. Humans have a habit of labelling other humans. On a slightly different subject, humans are finally understanding that the sexual preferences and genders of humans is a continuous spectrum from one extreme to the other. In the past we labelled people as female and male, as women and men. But because of the woke movement people are being forced (and this is a good thing) into relating to other people in a more refined and fluid way. Sexual preferences and gender is not a black-and-white situation. I don't think we should label anybody in any way. Perhaps one day we won't. Everyone with any sexual preference and preferences regarding their gender should be accepted as normal even if it might be unusual.

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